A new coalition of independent concert venues from across the country has issued a letter to Congress asking legislators for further assistance to cushion the blow they’ve faced as live music has shuttered in the wake of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.
The National Independent Venue Association, made up of more than 800 prominent venues including the Troubadour in Los Angeles, the 9:30 Club in Washington, D.C., World Cafe Live in Philadelphia, and the Hammerstein Ballroom in New York, was founded last week in light of venues’ ongoing need for assistance while their businesses remain closed.
“Our passionate and fiercely independent operators are not ones to ask for handouts,” Dayna Frank, NIVA Board President and owner of First Avenue in Minneapolis, said in a statement issued to Rolling Stone. “But because of our unprecedented, tenuous position, for the first time in history, there is legitimate fear for our collective existence.”
The letter, issued to Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer, and House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy on Wednesday, details requests and recommendations based on struggles that have been particularly challenging for concert venues, where closing their doors has cut into virtually all of their revenue.
NIVA asked to ensure that the Small Business Administration’s Paycheck Protection Program offer more help for businesses like theirs that are completely shut down and which put them in the greatest need, the association said. Potential revisions would include increasing the program’s loan cap and extending the program until all the affected businesses can resume operations at full capacity.
“Our businesses were among the first to close as COVID-19 spread across the country and, unfortunately, are also likely to be among the last to reopen,” the letter said. “Recently, leaders in both California and New York expressed skepticism about the return of concerts and live events until at least 2021, which means that in order to protect lives, our employees and artists may remain without jobs and we may be without revenue for an entire year or more.”
Other requests include establishing a business recovery grant fund for concert venues and other shuttered businesses, granting various forms of tax relief, and continuing unemployment insurance for contract workers and artists who typically wouldn’t get such protections. NIVA also called on government officials to put more resources toward virus testing and treatments and vaccination, and to create guidelines to help safely reinstate mass gatherings as part of the eventual reopening process. According to NIVA, its concert venues contribute a total of $10 billion to their local economies each year.
“The cultural impact of our venues on our local communities is priceless. We are the steadfast incubators and launch pads for the most popular talent in the world. Our stages give artists like Adele, U2, Keith Urban, Prince, Lizzo, the Eagles, Wu-Tang Clan, and Foo Fighters their start,” the letter said. “The world could be without the next Lady Gaga, Kenny Chesney, Chance the Rapper, or Bruce Springsteen if we cease to exist. Independent venues and promoters are crucial components of the music industry’s ecosystem, without whom there will be dire ramifications for artists as fan spending plummets.”
NIVA’s appeal to Congress is the latest from music-industry members; before the federal government passed the $2 trillion coronavirus aid program, various music and entertainment companies signed a joint letter asking for financial relief.
National Independent Venue Association – Letter to Congress